James Murphy Demonstrates Musical NYC Subway Idea

Super-producer wants to turn system into multi-station symphony.

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Ex LCD Soundsytem's James Murphy has discussed and demonstrated his popular idea to make the turnstiles in New York's subway play music.

In a video for the Wall Street Journal (via Gigwise), Murphy discussed his love of his hometown and demonstrated his proposal to have the turnstiles playing different musical notes.

"It's kind of a tough city and a very expensive city, but the subway is kind of egalitarian," he said. "I have a love affair with [the subway] - it's kind of the best of New York City."

He continued: "I've been noticing that the subway feels quite brutal, it's missing an opportunity at the turnstile. At the moment, there's kind of this unpleasant beep. Given that all of that information is already in the turnstile, why don't we just make it a nice sound? Just make it pleasant.

"It's an opportunity for music - why not make the worst times on subways the best times?"

Murphy has previously spoken of his ambition to make every subway station in the US city have its own music, so that people will later associate the place with that sound. The producer, who asked former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to back his plan when he was still in office, said: "I've been fighting for 14 years to get all the subway turnstiles to make music. I want to make every station in New York have a different set of dominant keys, so that people who grow up will later on in life hear a piece of music and say, 'Oh, that's like Union Square'."

However, Metropolitan Transport Authority spokesperson Adam Lisberg has seemingly dismissed Murphy's scheme by claiming that it would require lots of financial resources for "an art project." In response, Murphy has set up both a website and petition for people to back his idea here.

Murphy put LCD Soundsytem into retirement in 2011. However, in October last year, Arcade Fire member Richard Reed Parry suggested that Murphy – who worked as a producer on the Canadian band's 2013 album "Reflektor" – would eventually reform his old band as they were "too good" not to make music again.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Its a good idea, but even the 'nice' noises would get annoying after a while. Its like why you should never put your favourite song as your alarm or something, too much of anything you like (particularly associated with going to work) can turn into an annoyance.
    I think he's more going for just different pitches that have a harmonic consonance instead of the same monotonous beep he's complaining about instead of a full song or melody. It could be cool to see and then people will find ways to make little melodies by "playing" them in a sequence.
    Yeah, they could be C major scale at one stop, G pentatonic at another, D minor triads at another... Yeah man.